A statue commemorating the victims of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing has been removed from the campus of Hong Kong University. It was one of the few monuments dedicated to those events kept in the public space. The statue’s removal coincides with a period in which Beijing is increasingly cracking down on pro-democracy circles in Hong Kong.
On Wednesday evening, the space around the Shame Pillar was fenced off with plastic blinds, behind which workers worked all night to remove it. At that time, security guards prevented journalists from approaching the statue. “The decision was taken on the basis of external legal advice and an assessment of risks in the interest of the university,” the university’s authorities said in the statement. As it was added, security issues related to the “fragile structure of the memorial” also raised concerns. The statue will now be stored.
The Memorial to the Victims of the Massacre in Tiananmen Square in Beijing is an eight-meter-high statue, depicting crowded human torsos. It was set up on a university campus in Hong Kong 24 years ago.
Danish sculptor Jens Galchiot, who was behind the monument, said its removal was a “brutal act”. A statue dedicated to the deceased commemorating the victims of the 1989 events in Beijing. He said in an interview with the BBC that destroying it in this way is like going to a cemetery and destroying all the tombstones. The artist admitted that he is considering sue the university authorities and demand compensation.
Convicted of commemorating the Tiananmen massacre
On the night of June 3-4, 1989, tanks and armored personnel carriers rolled into Beijing’s central square – Heavenly Gate of Peace Square – Tiananmen, where thousands of Chinese students demonstrated for seven weeks to demand the democratization of the regime. The actual number of victims is still unknown – at the end of June 1989, the then mayor of Beijing admitted the killing of 200 demonstrators, including 36 students. Unofficial estimates put the death toll at two thousand. Up to three thousand people were arrested.
These events are fully censored in mainland China, while Hong Kong has for decades allowed memorials for the victims. For 30 years, candlelight vigils have been held in the city in memory of the massacre, but authorities banned it for two years, justifying it as the COVID-19 pandemic spread.
In the first half of December A Hong Kong court has convicted eight pro-democracy activists For a sentence of up to 14 months in prison for participating in the vigil in 2020. The defendants were among thousands of people who ignored the ban imposed by the authorities. The court found them guilty of organizing, participating in or inciting to participate in an unauthorized meeting.
Top sentence, 14 months, I heard Lee Cheok Yan, leader of the now-dissolved Hong Kong Alliance in Support of National Democratic Movements in China, who was organizing vigils in memory of the Tiananmen massacre.
Jimmy Lai, founder of the pro-democracy daily Pinggwo Yatbou (Apple Daily), which was forced to close under pressure from the authorities, has been sentenced to 13 months in prison. Like Lee, Lai is already in prison for other offenses related to supporting the opposition.
Chinese security regulations in Hong Kong
In 2019, Hong Kong residents protested a project to enable the extradition of suspects from the city to mainland China, where courts are under the control of the Chinese Communist Party.
Authorities initially withdrew the project, but in 2020, after protests in the COVID-19 pandemic ended, Beijing imposed stricter security regulations on Hong Kong, similar to those used on the continent to fight dissent.
Main image source: Reuters
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